I remember reading about some language in which both [t] and [k] were considered the same phoneme and one of the [t] and [k] were used in formal and the other in informal settings. Does such a language exist or was what I read a myth? I apologize for being vague but I have no other information about that language and it is bugging me.

2 Answers 2


There are a few Polynesian languages such as Hawaiian and Samoan that don't contrast [t] and [k] i.e. [t] and [k] exist as allophones of /t/.

The language you're looking for seems to be Samoan where /t/ is pronounced [k] in colloquial speech and [t] in formal speech.


K (Depending on the person) is used in everyday speech, though T is used to greet people formerly. So, T is replaced with K, similar to how Tongans replace the sound of their Ts with a D, but in Samoa you can choose to speak which ever style you like depending on the situation.

  • 4
    Hi, Hamo, and welcome to the site! Which language are you referring to in this answer? Samoan?
    – Draconis
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 23:58

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